Sanderson Farms Championship

C.C. of Jackson



Best in State

The best golf courses in Nebraska

The vast Sand Hills of north central Nebraska, where cattle outnumber people, comprise one of golf's most distinctive landscapes. Not unlike the links of Scotland and Ireland or the Sand Belt of Melbourne, their unique topography, soils and climate elevate nearly every course they touch. Seven of the top ten courses in Nebraska are in or touch parts of the Sand Hills, including the region's original design, Sand Hills Golf Club, ranked 8th on America's 100 Greatest Courses. That makes the Best in State debut of Landmand Golf Club, a 2022 design located over 200 miles away in northeastern farmland, even more impressive.

Below you'll find our 2023-'24 ranking of the Best Golf Courses in Nebraska.

We urge you to click through to each individual course page for bonus photography, drone footage and reviews from our course panelists. Plus, you can now leave your own ratings on the courses you’ve played … to make your case why your favorite should be ranked higher. 

1. (1) Sand Hills Golf Club
Private
1. (1) Sand Hills Golf Club
Mullen, NE
4.9
174 Panelists
The golf course wasn’t so much designed as discovered. Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw trudged back and forth over a thousand acres of rolling sand hills in central Nebraska, flagging out naturally-occurring fairways and greens. By moving just 4,000 cubic yards of earth, and letting the winds shape the bunkers, the duo created what is undoubtedly the most natural golf course in America, a timeless course design. For decades, winter winds had always reshaped the bunkers, but course officials have recently discovered a method to prevent that. At the close of the season, they spray the surface of the sand in bunkers with a product that creates a crust to resist the howling winds.
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2. (NR) CapRock Ranch
Private
2. (NR) CapRock Ranch
Valentine, NE
4.8
52 Panelists
The original owner of this property in north-central Nebraska first contacted Gil Hanse to design the course in the early 2000s. It took nearly 20 years—and different ownership—to complete the task, but the wait was worth it. Opened summer 2021, the members-only CapRock Ranch is the latest addition to the golf wonderland that is the vast Nebraska Sand Hills, where architects dream of going to do as little as possible. Half the course explores the gentle, grass-covered dunesland, and the other—seven holes to be exact—frolic along the rim of the Snake River Canyon, dropping 100 feet or more to the bottom. Scoring in both splash and sublimity, CapRock is uncommonly diverse and picturesque, a meeting of melodic minimalism and intense moments of orchestral wonderment.
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3. (NR) Landmand
Public
3. (NR) Landmand
Homer, NE

From Golf Digest Architecture Editor Derek Duncan:

Actor Nick Cage once ate a live cockroach for a film he was shooting. Later, when asked why—he could have eaten a pretend insect—he responded, “Anything less wouldn’t be real.” The conceit is that at times the only way to fulfill the potential of a given situation—a movie scene, a piece of art, a military offensive—is to push as far and aggressively as possible.
 

This principle applies to Landmand, a new design in northeastern Nebraska about 10 miles from Sioux City, Iowa. The course sits on a vast, elevated section of loess formations with eroded furrows and valleys. It winds across the bluffs and between valleys, and from the tops of the ridges horizon views of 20 miles or more are possible, filling the landscape with a feeling of unlimited proportion.
 

Given the setting, it’s impossible to discern the scale of the features in the near and middle distance, and the only way for architects Rob Collins and Tad King to make the golf look like it fit against the endless backdrops was to construct fairways 80 to 100 yards wide and greens that are, cumulatively and in some cases individually, the largest in the United States.

Explore our complete review here—including bonus photography and ratings from our expert panelists.

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4. (2) Dismal River Club: Red
Private
4. (2) Dismal River Club: Red
Mullen, NE
In adding a companion 18 to the Jack Nicklaus-designed White Course at Dismal River, Tom Doak created as organic and amorphous a design as anyone is liable to do in the U.S., simply following the flow of the land and locating greens with breathtaking backdrops. Doak walked the site several times before routing it, utilizing the existing folds of the land for his holes. His associate Brian Slawnik then mowed out the proposed fairways, which spread across the landscape into wide splotches, even flowing into adjacent fairways. Then Doak personally hand-shaped the greens. All but four of the putting surfaces took less than an hour apiece to transform from raw land to seedbed. There are no formal tee boxes, just broad, freeform pads with a couple of yardage posts. One gets the feeling that you could play the Red Course backwards to equal delight.
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5. (4) Omaha Country Club
Private
5. (4) Omaha Country Club
Omaha, NE
4.3
80 Panelists
Opened in 1899, Omaha Country Club is one of the oldest clubs in the Midwest. The course has some incredibly undulating topography that captivates the golfer with a great mix of uphill and downhill holes. Despite being situated in a flat part of the country, Omaha’s elevation changes separates it from its peers. In addition, the green complexes are severely contoured with some pin positions allowing for scoring opportunities and others adding to the resistance to scoring.
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6. (3) The Prairie Club Dunes Course
The Dunes Course, as the name implies, flows through a rumpled blanket landscape of the rugged, treeless, windswept sand hills of central Nebraska. Most fairways are generously broad, most greens are perched, tucked or otherwise half-hidden to reward only shots correctly placed at certain angles. The most fascinating hole comes early, the par-4 second with out-of-bounds indicated by a barbed-wire fence hard along the right from tee to green, but other holes like the par-4 eighth with a notch in a dune that gives players a peek-a-boo look at the green as they approach and the multi-option sixth and 13th are just as entertaining.
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7. (5) Dismal River Club: White
Private
7. (5) Dismal River Club: White
Mullen, NE
3.8
103 Panelists

Dismal River, named for the eponymous body of water that flows through the rural Nebraska site, was created in the early 2000s as a slightly more upscale alternative to Sand Hills, at least amenity-wise. Located just a few miles from its inspiration, a course perennially ranked among the top ten on America's 100 Greatest Courses, Dismal River struggled to live up to its lofty goals and has changed ownership and operators several times. The White Course (a second course, the Red, was added in 2013) rolls across landforms similar to Sand Hills but are often more extreme and abrupt. When Jack Nicklaus was guiding his team through construction, he never went to examine what made the neighbor course so admired, and parts of the White lack the grace and naturalness of Sand Hills. The ground could have benefitted from a little more cutting and shaping, and in fact work was later done to soften and modify several holes. That's not to say there aren't stretches of great golf and powerfully emontional moments looking across the endless horisons of heaving grass dunes. The par-5 fourth plowing through a low valley adjacent to a broad sand blow out stands apart, as does the dogleg left seventh that climbs toward a natural greensite. Big hitters can try to drive the blind green over the top of a dune at the par-4 eighth, and the 11th, 14th and 15th all have turbulent greens partially hidden by bunkers and sand hill brows.

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8. (6) Wild Horse Golf Club
Public
8. (6) Wild Horse Golf Club
Gothenburg, NE

From Golf Digest Architecture Editor emeritus Ron Whitten:
 

Dan Proctor and Dave Axland have been quasi-legends in the business of golf course construction for over 30 years now, individually and collectively. They've worked on many of Coore & Crenshaw’s prominent designs, including Sand Hills (Nebraska's premier layout, in the center of the state's vast sand hills) and Cabot Cliffs (Canada's premier layout these days). They even rated cameo appearances in Geoff Shackleford’s 1998 novel, The Good Doctor Returns. And they were also a talented course design team in their spare time, routing and building quality low-budget courses in the Coore & Crenshaw style.
 

Their most prominent collaboration is Wild Horse in central Nebraska, a public “little brother” to Sand Hills, in slightly softer but still authentic sand hills, closer to civilization. Like at Sand Hills, Wild Horse is lay-of-the-land architecture routed without benefit of topographic maps, with natural-looking bunkers, native grass roughs and pitch-and-run shots galore. Total earth moved: 5,000 cubic yards. Total construction costs: a little less than $1 million.
 

In my opinion, it's the best low-cost golf course in the nation. I admit I'm showing provincialism here. I was born and raised in Nebraska, and I'm partial to her natural treasures, of which Wild Horse is certainly one. There are many other fine public courses in the Midwest that are even less expensive to play than this one, but none, I will argue, will give you quite as genuine a prairie links experience as Wild Horse. 


Explore our complete review here—including bonus photography and ratings from our expert panelists.

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9. (7) The Prairie Club: Pines
Public
9. (7) The Prairie Club: Pines
Valentine, NE

Not as pure a Nebraska sandhills experience as sister Dunes Course, the Pines Course has just 11 holes playing in the tumbling prairie topography. It repeatedly touches the edge of a deep canyon formed by the Snake River. Those seven holes (6 & 7, 10 & 11 and 16 through 18) are lined with tall pines and cedars and bring to mind a collection of holes in the Colorado Rockies. For pure golfing variety, Prairie Club rivals even Bandon Dunes.

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10. (9) Firethorn Golf Club
Private
10. (9) Firethorn Golf Club
Lincoln, NE
4.3
35 Panelists
Located in Lincoln, Firethorn is the only course in the state of Nebraska designed by the late Pete Dye. Built in the 1980s, it's the home course for the University of Nebraska's golf teams and offers a number of vintage Dye architectural touches including deep pot bunkers, several par-3 green angled against water hazards and an Alps-like short par 4 with a green completely hidden behind a mound. Those who haven't played the course before usually have no idea where it is.
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